Archive for month: May, 2012

Lush Botanical Gardens and Gorgeous Campsite

Categories: Adventure, Conscious Living, Travel - Tags: , , ,

After, in yet another deluge, we headed north up Highway 19 taking the scenic loop off the original highway—(shades of the Hana Highway of our peregrinations two weeks ago)—Another stroke of luck, we just squeaked in at the  and were we grateful that we did. A true labor of love by Dan Lutkenhouse and his wfe Pauline, and donated to the “people of the world” it is probably the most beautiful tropical garden either Jim or I had ever seen anywhere. The Lutkenhouses spent six years hand-clearing the impenetrable jungle to create winding trails, lined by their personal collection of myriad exotic plants.











The trail follows a lushly verdant canyon down all the way to a spectacular cove with dramatic surf, but the journey down is so beautiful and the plenitude of tropical flowering plants to beautiful, we almost got tired saying “ooh! “Wow, Did you see THIS?” “Aah!







Lapahoehoe Yogini–What a spot!                                            Jim Chortling Reading Passage in Pulling Up Stakes

To crown this auspicious day, we are bowing in gratitude to Minnie Winnie—for we are the sole campers in one of the most beautiful campsites we’ve ever graced. It is on Laupahoehoe Point—and we have it all to ourselves—perched on a point, we have inlets with azure waves roiling and crashing on jagged rocks, making such thunderous sounds and visual beauty, we could barely settle in to our delicious raw ahi tuna dinner with farmer’s market baby lettuces and avocadoes. But we managed. Tomorrow, we’ll head up to Waip’io Valley, which by all accounts is one of Hawaii’s most spectacular sights.
Is Winnie winning us over? Absolutely!!

Big Sur Spectacular Hike!

Categories: Adventure, Hiking - Tags: , ,

 What a joy to live only one hour from the spectacular Big Sur coastline of California!

Today we took advantage big time. Three stalwart hikers from our local hiking club     soaked up the great vibes of a gorgeous day of early STRENUOUS climbing, hiking up the Garrapata Trail above Big Sur. We didn’t see another soul until we began our descent. The trail, unfortunately, is really eroded due to the crisis in funding of the California state parks. There has been no maintenance, so we climbed past the Red Alert “Trail Closed due to dangerous conditions” sign, noting washouts, old trail stairs undermined by washouts, rolling scree and lousy footing. But it was more than worth braving it.

The ridge is probably over 2,000 challenging feet of climbing above the crashing surf below. On the way, we were blown away by the plethora of wildflowers–it must be the PEAK of the spring explosion–We saw beaucoup mounds of blue Lupine, yellow Lupine, lots of resplendently orange California poppies, Blue Dix, Larkspur (Delphinium), Astors, Pearly Everlasting, Mustang Clover, Silver Thistle, Golden Yarrow, Mustard, Indian Paintbrush, Phacelia, Owl Clover, Rattlesake Grass, Farewell to Spring, Seedums, Ceanothus, Hemlock. Redwood Sorrel, Black Sage, Ranger’s Buttons, Morning Glories and Sunflowers!

 Such an explosive array of nature’s beauty is a solace to the soul.  I have been feeling a little blue since my book was released–It’s kind of a post partum reaction, letting go of my baby, what will take her place?–but surrounded by the beauty of all these flowers, BLUE took on new cleansing meaning and I feel refreshed and joyful.  A hike in nature is phenomenal therapy!  Especially when followed by a picnic overlooking the Cerulean BLUE Pacific with sound effects gratis the frolicking seals!

Coastline Big Sur Garrapata State Park

Rain Driven ~ Hilo to Laupahoehoe

Categories: Adventure, Travel - Tags: , , , ,

Awakened suddenly by my cell phone ringing—naturally all the way aft in our land yacht—I hastily repeated the tuck and roll maneuver to evacuate the loft bunk and achieved the aisle in the main cabin, thence to the galley, unearthing the phone in the (dry) kitchen sink. It was a colleague in California calling to discuss a clinical case we share…of course she hadn’t realized it was dawn in Hawaii, even if it was business hours in California. So, our day began.

But shortly thereafter, the rain abated, the clouds parted and we made haste to return to the volcano to at least tuck in a hike through a lava tube before heading on to Hilo. Well worth the scramble as there was no one else there yet and we had a brief re-birthing experience in our 70s—crawling first down into Pele’s belly in mother earth, then up out the end of the lava tube, emerging into bits of sunlight to stretch and greet the beginning of a great day.
Today is a major farmer’s market day in Hilo, and as a farmer’s market maven trolling for fruits and vegetables the world over, this was a “must not miss” opportunity for me. Wow. The single papaya I might spring for at Whole Foods for $4, here comes by the dozen for that, and in a choice of several varieties. Avocadoes, mangoes, pineapples, tomatoes, all kinds of greens and a plethora of exotica I couldn’t name—all to be had for a song.
Then there was the handsome young lion (stud muffin) deftly wielding a machete on green coconuts, (well, almost deftly, as he did have one well-bandaged finger) providing us with two straws and the delicacy of fresh ice cold coconut water for a buck. (while serenaded by a kid with guitar and major long blonde dreadlocks, just in from a Rainbow Gathering in Puno—remarkably blasé about the guy who OD’d there yesterday, and optimistically hoping to achieve a few bucks to buy diapers and formula for his baby).











“Machete Man”                                                                                 “Hilo Farmer’s Market Bounty”

The rain comes and goes in torrents and sheets, then when it breaks, everyone mobilizes, crosses streets, sets off on errands, etc. until the next bucket dump moves in.

Dodging and weaving our way from the farmer’s market, we found the Lyman Museum and Missionary House (the oldest wood frame house on the island, built in 1839) up a side street. I felt it my touristic duty to drag Jim, whose middle name is Lyman, (even though Lyman was a relative by marriage not blood), insisting that we couldn’t miss it. It turned out that Pele’s wrath behind us, we got lucky—we had a phenomenal docent on a great tour of the Lyman’s missionary headquarters.
We learned tons about the early missionary culture in the islands, not the least of which was that David and Sarah Lyman were incredibly disciplined, well-educated, focused and competent people. David brought with him two degrees, an undergraduate degree from Williams College and a divinity school degree from Yale—he founded and ran the Hilo Christian school and with Sarah, created a small dynasty of Lymans who, if they survived into adulthood, became doctors, lawyers, business and civic leaders, furniture makers, and teachers. Sarah home schooled their nine children, made all their clothes, taught herself piano and flute, kept detailed journals of the natural world and her own experiences as a missionary wife and hosted innumerable supper parties and parlor concerts in their gracious home. Very impressive.

Pele’s Revenge

Categories: Adventure

Pele’s Revenge

In spite of our huge disappointment about a day of nonstop downpour putting the kibosh on our plans to hike miles of the many reportedly fabulous (literally) trails on Mauna Loa Volcano on the south side of the big island of Hawaii, we did spend a few hours in rapt attention escaping the rain within the Jaggar Museum and the Kilauea Visitor’s Center, and the Volcano Art Center.

This volcano is still fiercely active.  We camped in Winnie at Namakani Palo in the Volcanoes National Park, hoping the storm would abate enough to hike back up to the crater at night to see her spewing red hot lava.  But the rains droned on.  Nevertheless, the exhibitions and films gave us a powerful sense of the horrendous power of Pele, Hawaii’s  Goddess of Volcanos.  The last and only time I was here was in 1959 with my parents; we were prohibited from coming anywhere near Hilo and the volcano because Pele was in overdrive—that was one of the most destructive of recent eruptions, but there have been and are still ongoing flows of staggering power.

Mostly that night, we took some comfort holed up in Minnie with the rain pummeling on her metal roof, high and dry, enjoying cooking dinner in our new but still unaccustomed land yacht, while the poor benighted folks in tents around us were fending off rivers of water and trying to set up their tents in the camp’s public bathrooms and picnic pergolas.

The rain continued all night long at our campsite in Volcanoes National Park, but in our loft bed above Minnie the Winnie’s driver’s cab, we slept like babies drummed to sleep by her gentle rhythm.  There is one safety challenge in the middle of the night if nature calls….namely climbing down out of the loft.  That involves a deft tuck and roll move, then feet over the side to search with your toes for the back of the bench seat behind the driver’s seat, avoid stepping on and deconstructing the dining table, swing around onto the floor and walk gingerly, in the dark along past the galley into the head.  This is all done in relative silence (except if there’s a misstep), but once mission is accomplished in the head, there is the horrendous noise of pumping the thing out.   Could be mistaken for an “All Hands on Deck” alarm call.

Finally back to sleep, lulled again by the rain and hopeful dreams of a clear sky in the morning.




Minnie Winnie

Categories: Adventure, Travel - Tags: , , ,

Well…..just well…..maybe Oh, well! Hmmm. We’re now on our own on the Big Island of Hawaii. Jim’s bandaged toe precedes my black eye out of the Kona airport where we are to meet and greet our home for the next nine days, our first camper van. This is a trial run for a means of transport for our upcoming book tour celebrating the release of Pulling Up Stakes: Stepping Into Freedom.
We’ve ordered the smallest one on the island, trolling for something like a VW Vanagon, not wanting to be relegated to Walmart parking lots and fear of low bridges. When we meet “Minnie Winnie” as they call her, she is a MONSTROUS Winnebago. It turns out she is the smallest camper van for rent on the Big Island. It also turns out she is the ONLY camper van for rent on the Big Island. She can seat, count em, nine passengers. To us, she seems like a whale.
It takes two hours for the rental agent to check us out on all her many systems, (including scrupulous recording of every ding and dent—plus the long handled mirror check of the 13 foot high roof) before we set out for our first night….the improbable, comical, farcical night where we drive Minnie Winnie north of Kona to the grounds of the famed luxury hotel, the Mauna Kea on Kauna’oa Bay just north of Waialea Bay. We are going to visit one of my high school classmates who has a home right at the resort. Our plan is to try to “hide” Minnie Winnie from the gate keeper’s watchful eye, just slip in unobtrusively and park in their driveway.
Wrong. Arriving in this behemoth, we timidly announce that we are guests of …., and lo and behold, just like a raised eyebrow, the arm of the gate is raised; we are allowed in. My friend’s entry driveway is shaded by a gracious downward sweeping tree—00ps. If we actually make it down their winding driveway, we’ll take off branches of their beautiful specimen Monkey Pod tree and give Minnie a serious haircut. That means we have to master REVERSE. Oops again. Minnie in reverse emits that beeping sound associated with huge vehicles. Jim sends me aft into the road to talk him back from the specimen tree. We park, not as surreptitiously as we’d hoped, having made a rather embarrassing entrance—my black eye doesn’t help.

However, my friend Janet, is incredibly gracious and either puts on a great show of equanimity, or is truly unflapped and actually entertained by the improbable juxtaposition of Minnie and their gorgeous home. We proceed to spend our first night not as we had expected, in Minnie, but at their insistence, in their commodious guest room overlooking a beautiful pool and gardens, partaking of a delectable sushi dinner and convivial conversation.
Hmm…. RV-ing is NOT all that bad!@$%

Barf Bags and Bar Room Brawls

Categories: Adventure, Travel - Tags: , , , ,

Molokai was amazing, getting there by a chartered ferry from Lanai was wonderful.  The owner of Island Princess Ferries actually captained our boat and regaled us with wonderful background about the myriad whales we encountered breeching and diving around our tandem-laden ferry.  

Sailing Across from Maul to Lanai

Unloading the bikes was an almost drenching Tandem Bike Ballet.

However, the return public ferry from Molokai to Lanai was some kind of cosmic belly nightmare, as the seas were angry and bilious; the ferry pitched and yawled and the passengers wretched and heaved until the crew ran out of barf bags.  It wasn’t pleasant.

Jim and I stayed our course but by the time we checked back into our hotel in Maui, we were pretty spent.  I decided a cup of tea was in order, as we were unsettled and packing for our early flight to the big island in the morning–however, I couldn’t locate the coffee pot.  I called housekeeping and was advised to look in the minibar.  I tried, but the cabinet door was stuck, so I leaned over and gave it a good pull when suddenly, it flew open and the corner of the door bonked me in the eye.  Blood flowed and swelling began immediately.  Jim called the front desk for bandages and in moments a medic team knocked on our door with cameras, legal release forms and medical assistance….

So here I was, after a wonderful week of some gorgeous but occasionally harrowing cycling with no accidents, finding myself the humiliated recipient of a black eye at the hands of a recalcitrant mini bar.